Insights

General Policy icon

Britain and Europe: not black and white but grey

General Policy

Stephen Adams
|

A Global Counsel/TNS poll of British public opinion three weeks ahead of the European Parliamentary elections suggests a fine balance between supporters and opponents of UK membership of the EU. There is a marked generational split. Britain’s quintessential Eurosceptic is a man over 55, working class, living in the South East of England and no longer in employment. By…

Read more
General Politics

Ukraine: the election and after

General Politics

Benjamin Wegg-Prosser
|

The election to choose a new Ukrainian president is scheduled for 25 May. Instability in the country’s east means it is not yet certain that the vote will take place at all. The election is a crucial test for post-revolution Kiev, which needs to produce an administration capable of representing all parts of the country, delivering a painful reform agenda and presenting a…

Read more
Energy and commodities icon

Europe's 28 Russian energy questions

Energy & Commodities

Matthew Duhan
|

Vladimir Putin’s letter to European leaders has raised the threat of gas supply disruption in Europe and once again posed the question - how reliant should the EU be on Russian gas imports? However, in European energy security there are 28 different ‘Russia questions’ – one for every member state. As a result a grand European response is unlikely and there are also…

Read more
Financial services icon

Ecobank and the African cross-border banking gap

Financial Services

Stephen Adams
|

Leadership changes at African retail bank Ecobank two weeks ago ended a long and debilitating governance crisis for the bank. These events offer a case-study in the complicated politics of African cross-border banking and some of the big challenges banks like Ecobank will face working with African regulators struggling to build institutional frameworks to keep up with…

Read more
General Policy icon

Scotland ‘independence lite’ or ‘devo more’

General Policy

Matthew Duhan
|

Six months from today voters in Scotland will be waking up to discover their collective answer to the question “should Scotland be an independent country?” For now polls indicate that answer is likely to be no, but that is unlikely to be the end of the story. In the last two months a noisy debate has made the choices facing Scotland a lot starker and raised questions…

Read more
Financial services icon

Ukraine debt, democracy and division

Financial Services

Stephen Adams
|

The interim government formed in Kiev this week will need political skill, external support and good fortune if it is to restore stability, hold the country together and satisfy the high hopes for economic and political change. Kiev’s choices will be fundamentally shaped by the choices of its neighbours, above all Russia and Vladimir Putin. The current situation is a blow…

Read more
Financial services icon

Stress test: transforming the ECB in 2014

Financial Services

Stephen Adams
|

In 2014 the European Central Bank (ECB) will take on one of the biggest and most complex banking supervision roles in the world. For the ECB this is an institutional, cultural and political transformation. It faces the double challenge of doing it when the Eurozone banking system is in poor shape, and when that banking sector weakness is undermining the ECB’s other core…

Read more
Trade and Manufacturing icon

Indonesia the Wirjawan question

Trade & Manufacturing

Stephen Adams
|

Late last month, Indonesian Trade minister Gita Wirjawan stood down to concentrate on his long-anticipated campaign for the Indonesian Presidency. Wirjawan has set the tone for Indonesian inward investment and trade policy for half a decade, and that tone has been a pragmatic mix of openness and intervention. Under Wirjawan, Jakarta has taken a series of measures designed…

Read more
General Policy icon

The joyless generation the declining prospects of middle earners

General Policy

Gregor Irwin
|

Middle earners could be on the verge of a secular stagnation in their real incomes. In many advanced economies the benefits of GDP growth appear to be increasingly concentrated on the providers of capital and the top end of the income spectrum. Last week, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama announced a year of action on inequality. A prolonged squeeze on the…

Read more
Energy and commodities icon

Europe’s 2030 climate targets feeling the squeeze

Energy & Commodities

Matthew Duhan
|

Last week saw the European Commission announce its proposals for new energy and climate change targets. The headlines were a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and for 27% of European energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030. The targets were at the higher end of what was politically possible – a reflection of member states’…

Read more
Energy and commodities icon

Germany and energy black and red but less green

Energy & Commodities

Matthew Duhan
|

Last week’s German Coalition agreement produced an agenda which will trim some of the costs and moderate some of the ambition of the Energiewende. What it fails to do is address the fundamental problem that Germany is powered by a mixture of expensive low-carbon renewables and cheap carbon-intensive coal. This policymaking conservatism is the product of a debate on the…

Read more
Financial services icon

Solvency II and Europe's regulatory reach

Financial Services

Stephen Adams
|

On November 13, an important provisional agreement was reached in Brussels on the EU’s flagship regulation of insurance companies – Solvency II. As part of the package the EU appears to have reassessed the way it approached the question of regulating EU insurers operating in third countries – especially the US. A tough line on demanding regulatory ‘equivalence’ from…

Read more
General Politics

The politics of the German surplus

General Politics

Stephen Adams
|

For investors in Europe the question of the Eurozone’s internal macroeconomic imbalances is central to the long term sustainability of the currency block. Last week, for the first time, the European Commission, formally triggered a review of Germany’s large current account surplus under one of the more obscure parts of the EU’s post-2011 economic governance arrangements…

Read more
Financial services icon

Slovenia: the Eurozone's next bailout?

Financial Services

Stephen Adams
|

Without attracting much wider attention, Slovenia has spent the last six months struggling to avoid following Cyprus into a Eurozone bailout. In particular, Ljubljana has been fighting a rear-guard action with its chronically damaged banking system. The numbers – including downgraded growth forecasts this week - increasingly suggest this is a fight it will struggle to win…

Read more
Trade and Manufacturing icon

Yangtze experiment the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Trade & Manufacturing

Stephen Adams
|

The plans for the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone have been closely read since they were published by the Chinese authorities at the end of last week. Details about the Zone’s operation remain unclear in many respects, although it will potentially create an enclave on Chinese soil where the rules for foreign businesses will look dramatically different. The Zone will…

Read more
General Politics

The shrinking German and Dutch centre-left

General Politics

Stephen Adams
|

This week the German centre left Social Democratic Party will open preliminary talks with Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU on the formation of a Grand Coalition government in which it would be the decidedly junior partner. Squeezed between a dominant centre right and a relatively resilient far left, the SDP has only two plausible ways to access government: moving…

Read more
General Politics

EU-Ukraine: what Russia does next

General Politics

Stephen Adams
|

Last Wednesday Ukraine reached a major political milestone in its relations with the EU when the Ukrainian government gave the green light to the signing of an Association Agreement between the two in Vilnius in November this year. After ten years of hesitation, Ukraine is choosing between two distinct and probably incompatible economic and geo- political alignments…

Read more
General Policy icon

The 2013 German election

General Policy

Stephen Adams
|

 This report argues that:

Read more